tv PBS News Hour PBS February 3, 2011 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. egyptian president mubarak vowed again to remain in power until the end of his term. protesters called for even larger demonstrations tomorrow. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, we get the latest on today's bloody confrontations and the attacks on journalists from jonathan rugman of "independent television news," and margaret warner reporting from cairo. >> we were told about all the violence against westerners, journalists, and others, and warned not to go downtown, no matter how circuitous the route. >> lehrer: and we assess what the clashes are doing to prospects for an orderly transfer of power.
>> woodruff: then, science correspondent miles o'brien explains a remarkable new discovery of more than 1,200 new planets outside our solar system. >> lehrer: "newshour" special correspondent kira kay reports on political turmoil in another middle eastern country-- lebanon. >> the christians are afraid of the muslim communities, the sunnis are afraid of the shiite communities, the shiites are afraid of the israel and the us. the druze community is afraid of everybody. >> woodruff: and jeffrey brown talks to author joyce carol oates about her new memoir, "a widow's story." >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i mean, where would we be without small businesses? >> we need small businesses. >> they're the ones that help drive growth. >> like electricians, mechanics, carpenters. >> they strengthen our communities. >> every year, chevron spends billions with small businesses. that goes right to the heart of
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and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: violence raged again in egypt today, but president mubarak stuck to his plan to stay in office until september. he told abc news that he's fed up and wants to go. but he said if he stepped down now, the outlawed muslim brotherhood would take power, and cause greater chaos. separately, newly named vice president omar suleiman said he has invited the muslim brotherhood to join talks on reform. and in washington, u.s. secretary of state clinton appealed anew for the regime to listen to its people. >> and i urge the government to
and a broad and credible representation of egypt's opposition, civil society, and political factions, to begin immediately serious negotiations on a peaceful and orderly transition. >> woodruff: in the streets of cairo, bloody fighting raged for a second day between government supporters and protesters. officials reported at least eight dead and many hundreds wounded. the country's prime minister apologized for the violence and promised an investigation. we have a report from jonathan rugman of "independent television news." be advised, some of the images are disturbing. >> reporter: pitched battles in egypt's capital. thousands of anti-mubarak protesters on one side of the river nile trying to drive his supporters out. this turf war has lasted more than more than 24 hours now. it has been shocking in its seething violence. and it has been almost non-stop.
this afternoon both sides were fighting from makeshift barricades just a few feet apart. central cairo has become a warzone. this standoff now so dangerous that many of those reporting it are trapped in their hotels. this morning the army set up a buffer zone between the two sides. but the tanks and soldiers are caught in the middle. nobody seems in control of anything here and the police have hardly been seen in days. the staccato rattle of gunfire is frequently in the air, yet the troops have been ordered not to shoot their own people, and warning shots are often ignored. in tahrir square itself the protestors-- a few thousand now- - are still defending their revolution. and they're stockpiling rocks for the battles ahead. barricading themselves inside until the president does what they demand and resigns, they hope tomorrow.
this is amateur video of the mayhem that was yesterday. the battles lasting all afternoon and late into the night. the sound all around us here of shouting, chanting and missiles flying through the air. hundreds were wounded yesterday, ferried away from the frontline to clinics set up by the anti government protestors themselves. some were injured by falling rocks. others were burnt by petrol bombs. others said they had been shot or stabbed by mubarak's secret police in a deliberate intimidation campaign >> this is hosni mubarak! that's what he do! and he fight us. we will die for our freedom! >> reporter: in this amateur video, a single police van is seen speeding toward a group of protesters. it doesn't stop.
this morning, we tried walking the ten minutes from our hotel to the protestors in tahrir square. plainclothes men and women who'd arrived in minibuses ordered us to stop. foreigners are running about ruining the country they shouted and forced us to turn back. soldiers on a tank nearby simply watched. we've been watching a lot of what is going on here from the safety of a hotel balcony because it's become increasingly dangerous for us to come outside. one foreign journalist i saw was dragged away by these plainclothes thugs. i didn't see him come back to the hotel. another was punched in the face. another journalist was stabbed in the leg. and these thugs are also stealing television equipment. so we've decided to stay put. >> lehrer: u.s. officials today condemned the systematic targeting of journalists, after widespread beatings and kidnappings of correspondents and crews. jeffrey brown has that story.
>> brown: the assaults began in earnest on wednesday, as supporters of president mubarak set upon journalists they accuse of favoring the protesters. fox news reported two of its employees were beaten and hospitalized. and mobs confronted abc's christianne armanpour. >> you are not with us. you are not with us. >> okay, okay. >> we want mubarak. we want mubarak. we want him. >> brown: in alexandria today, lindsey hilsum of "independent television news" reported the attackers are being egged on. >> on state television, they've been broadcasting that roaming around the country are israeli spies disguised as western journalists. now that is a very pernicious thing to say and that is one of the main reasons that so many journalists have been attacked in cairo. and we did experience a little bit of it ourselves today. >> brown: besides the attacks, interior ministry forces
detained at least two dozen journalists. in washington, the state department called it "a concerted campaign to intimidate." >> at this stage, we have information that has primarily come from you all, which says that in various interactions that you've had today, that ministry of interior personnel have been involved. we have taken that information, we have raised that information directly with the egyptian government. we obviously want them to investigate these fully, we want to have the journalists released. >> brown: egyptian officials and president mubarak's party denied instigating the attacks. and there were some reports today of army troops intervening to safeguard journalists. our own margaret warner arrived in cairo earlier today. i spoke with her a short time ago. what can you tell us so far about the security situation and level of violence? >> warner: well, jeff, i just arrived here about noontime.
by the time we got out of the airport it was after 5:00 p.m. this was getting through customs and trying to secure our equipment which many reporters have had confiscated. by that time it's after curfew so we are not downtown. we were told about all the violence against westerners, journalists and others and warned not to try to go downtown no matter by how circuitous a route. however, i've talked to a lot of people downtown-- from activists to people in the muslim brotherhood to western observers who were down there-- people do feel trapped inside their hotels or where they're staying. it was actually less... it was actually more peaceful today than it was, say, yesterday, which was really horrific. but there is a great sense of threat and of menace. i did also interview a journalist who was badly harassed and shaken down, a young man who actually was now trying to get out of the country on a state department evacuation flight. he'd been out in the streets just interviewing people about
the oil situation and the oil prices and... and was with his translator and was beset by a guy who tried to drag her off, two military men jumped in to try to protect them from the crowd that gathered, they got in a taxi. he said the crowd tried to flip over the taxi before they got away. so no doubt westerners are targets here. so i am doing what jonathan says he's doing, which is staying put. >> suarez: and what have you learned about who's behind the rise in violence? the government's role in this? >> warner: well, as you know, jeff, president mubarak spoke to christiane amanpour of abc late today and said... in fact, this evening here and said he deplored it and the state wasn't behind it and so did the vice president. but nobody i've talked to believes that. and there are two reasons. one is that the rhetoric coming out of the government has been very much about foreigners trying to stir up trouble. and you even heard that with vice president suleiman today in his press conference... in his
interview. but secondly, these are the same guys-- thugs, they're often called-- who are turned out during election time when there are smaller protests, that they are a mix of the state security police-- which is sort of like the secret police, but a big group-- and hired thugs and hooligans and various fellow travelers. one western observer, an election person, said to me "we see these guys all the time. we know these guys." and that's exactly what i'm hearing from absolutely everybody in the street. >> suarez: finally, there are calls for another huge march tomorrow by opponents of the government. somewhat what have you heard about that? >> warner: well, jeff, i would say there's a sense of foreboding. on the one hand, the organizers that i talked to and the activists said they think the egyptian people will again turn out. that tomorrow... one muslim brotherhood leader said to me
today february 4 will be like our july 4, it will be our day of liberation. so on the one hand there's great expectations about it. but on the other hand, there is great foreboding that the... that what happened yesterday will be repeated. that it won't be like tuesday's march, which was huge, jubilant, and fairly peaceful. that it will be like yesterday. and nobody knows for sure. a lot of the press has been intimidated away from the square. one human rights activist said to me she hasn't seen a lot of live footage from that square, not down on the square, in quite a few hours. there are helicopters circling overhead all the time. so it really depends on how the pro-mubarak forces respond as to how tomorrow goes. >> suarez: all right, margaret. you and our other colleagues there take good care of yourselves. margaret warner in cairo, thanks a lot. >> warner: thanks, jeff. >> woodruff: beyond egypt, there were large-scale new protests in
yemen today. thousands of people marched in cities across the country against president ali abdullah saleh. witnesses said police opened fire and used tear gas, and several people were wounded. and the government of algeria said it will lift a state of emergency imposed 19 years ago. that could open the way to legal protest marches there. we get more on today's news out of egypt from steve clemons, senior fellow at the new america foundation and publisher of the blog, "the washington note." samer shehata, assistant professor of arab politics at georgetown university. and steven cook, senior fellow for middle eastern studies at the council on foreign relations. 6-thank you all three for being here. i just want to report to you and our audience, we've just learned that vice president biden has been on the phone in the last hour or so calling the new egyptian vice president urging restraint on both sides. the wires are reporting the white house is saying that the egyptian government is
responsible for ensuring peaceful demonstrations don't lead to violence. now, samer shehata, what is the level of concern here in the united states about where things are headed? >> well, i think people are very concerned, both in egypt and the united states. as the report mentioned, tomorrow is supposed to be the day. as far as the protestors are concerned, all different types of protestors, from the april 6 movement to the muslim brotherhood. and they're going to try to get to cairo and get to tahrir, liberation square, in large numbers. and they're hoping that will be the end of mr. mubarak and he will either resign or leave. in fact, one group is calling it his day of departure. and the fear, of course, is that if they are met with what we saw today and even possibly worse with regards to regime repression. >> warner: steven cook, since the mubarak government, president mubarak himself, the officials around him are saying the violence is due to others, to being egged on by foreigners,
that the muslim brotherhood is behind it, why is the vice president of the united states calling the egyptian vice president to say you have responsibility in the government >> well, because it's clear, as your colleague margaret warner pointed out in her report, that nobody believes that this is anything but a regime-inspired violence intended to sew chaos and desperation among large groups of demonstrators so that they peel off from the hard-core groups that remain in the square. the whole objective of this is to convince those who've come out only recently into the streets that they have much to be feared that there's much to fear from coming out once again. and i think it's important that it's impressed upon omar suleiman and president mubarak how important this is. but it strikes me that we are now in existential territory for president mubarak and even vice president suleiman, the now-presumptive successor to president mubarak, that they
have now pulled out all the stops in order to rescue the regime. >> warner: steve clemens, we did hear president mubarak say in this off camera interview with christiane amanpour of abc that essentially he's defiant, he says he's going to stay in power until september. do we know what gives him the confidence to believe that he can do this? how big a gamble is this? >> i think it's a large gamble in one sense. but to some degree what you've seen president mubarak and also his son jamal do in the last election of december, 2010, is essentially go through a period of battening down the hatches, reinvigorating their controls in the state. they delivered 96% of the seats in the last parliament and they feel they can last out this storm. and i think one of the things that's going on that's quite sad is that despite what we may be seeing and shocking images on the street, the establishment in egypt is still watching mubarak hold on and the mubarak franchise have greater
survivability than many of us think they might have. they're hedging their bets. they don't think mubarak is gone and vice president suleiman, despite being representative of at least the army's choice, is not making a definitive difference between himself and mubarak and that's confusing. >> who are you saying are hedging their bets? >> i would say the egyptian establishments. the elites in egypt, those that have held jobs that are stakeholders. they may not be in the street bus where they go also matters and i think it's a big difference. if they see the mubarak franchise shut down, whether that means mubarak stays and has no power or leaves the government. but right now they see them maintaining control and at least keeping their talons in, if you will, what suleiman is doing. >> woodruff: you're shaking your head. >> well, i think it's become clear to most egyptians and hopefully most people in the military establishment in egypt that president mubarak is now a liability. he is not someing that benefits their continuation because as long as he is there,
as long as he is there as president or as long as her in the country, the protests are going to continue and the image of egypt is going to be tarnered. there's a potential possibility of the egyptian/u.s. relationship taking a new form in terms of military aid and so on. so he is the liability and i would hope that they would realize that their continuation and continuation of the regime, to some extent, which might not bode well for democracy, would be furthered if he were to exit the scene immediately. >> woodruff: steve cook... go ahead, you look like you want to say something before i ask the question. >> well, i think it's... we'd like to hope that the military brass has come to the conclusion that he is a liability and we do see a succession under way with the naming of omar suleiman the vice president. but to this point we have seen a unity of command and we have not yet seen the military break from mubarak. these are mubarak loyalist and
as samer suggested, they are deeply intertwined with the regime. their goal is to save the regime. they may at some point be looking for an opportunity for mubarak's graceful exit so that the regime can go on under some other military figure. right now the candidate seems to be omar suleiman. but i think in answer to your original question there is unity among the senior people, whether that is suleiman, mubarak, the chief of staff, the head of the presidential guard and the prime minister, achmed that fiqh, an air force commander. >> woodruff: let me just continue there. when the vice president says, steve cook, that he is prepared to meet with the muslim brotherhood to begin negotiations, do we take him at his word giving what's been going on? >> i would not take him at his word. i think that this is part of a
broader strategy to undermine the opposition, to deflect the opposition and to sow divisions among the oppositions. omar suleiman as the director of the intelligence service along with president mubarak have been two of the people most responsible for maintaining this authoritarian stability and repressing different political movements in egypt, primarily the muslim brotherhood. so there's no reason to believe that they're very serious about this other than it being part of a strategy to undermine and sow divisions among the opposition. >> woodruff: steve clemons, do we have any better understanding after the last few days of the opposition, the strength of the opposition? >> i think that the... our state department and european governments have done a very good job very fast of tooling up reaching out, trying to get a much better sense and gauge of what's happening in the streets. i think that there is still
serious miscommunication going on, sometimes purposeful, on what the egyptian leadership is choosing to hear from those trying to give it inputs on how to move. we're talking about negotiations here with the opposition. that seems to be to be ridiculous and a charade. what needs to happen is the immediate appointment of a committee to sort of promote and push forward free and fair elections that very clearly includes those who were rivals and antithetical to the mubarak regime. that's not a negotiation, that's immediate empowerment of other stakeholders for the moment. that would instantly take a lot of wind out of this storm and this government is choosing not to do that. >> woodruff: and back to what we started out talking about here, samer shehata. tomorrow, the urgent question is what's going to happen and how much resistance are we going to see from the government and from pro-mubarak forces. >> right. i wish i knew the answer to that question. i think there are a number of different questions. the first question is will
protestors in the opposition manage to get large numbers of people-- possibly as many people as we saw in the million-person demonstration that exceeded the million number several days ago. that will be the first question. the second question is will the mubarak thugs and the interior ministry folks use repression against them? and then the third question, i think, is will it make any difference? in other words, if they do demonstrate in millions all across the country, will this cause mubarak or people around him to reconsider, to entertain the possibility of either resignation-- which is one course-- or his departure, which is what many people are calling for. it gets very, very complicated because what might be best for democracy in egypt, much more fundamental change, really a complete change of the regime, is not necessarily in... is perceived to be in the interest of the united states, this orderly transition to omar suleiman and the vice president to the wikileaks documents
clearly indicate that he has no interest in democracy, no interest in allowing the muslim brotherhood to participate, no interest in human rights and so on. >> woodruff: well, those are all questions to keep in mind as we watch events unfold tonight and into tomorrow. samer shehata, steve clemons, steve cook, we thank you all three. >> lehrer: still to come on the "newshour": the discovery of some 1,200 new planets; the political upheaval in lebanon and author joyce carol oates. but first, the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: the turmoil in egypt has been rippling through the oil market, sending prices sharply higher in recent days. a top analyst told a senate hearing today the market is concerned about the suez canal and the wider region. >> the oil market is always fearful when there is a threat to big oil exporters in north africa and even bigger ones clustered in the persian gulf. egypt's not a major exporter, it's in fact a slight importer,
but about 2% to 4% of global supplies does transit egypt and what happens in egypt obviously has an impact beyond its borders in the middle east. >> sreenivasan: oil prices fell slightly today, but remained above $90 a barrel. world food prices have reached record highs and they have helped fuel the protests in egypt and elsewhere. the u.n. food and agriculture organization reported today its food price index rose nearly 3.5% in december. that makes seven straight months of increases. the after-effects of this week's huge winter storm lingered over the midwest and the northeast today. "newshour" correspondent kwame holman has our report. >> i haven't seen it this bad for... since the '60s. >> reporter: across much of the country people began the monumental task of digging out from a storm that dropped up to two feet of snow, plus heavy coatings of ice. in chicago, plows were out in force, and lakeshore drive reopened early this morning after being shut down for 34 hours.
tow trucks finally had cleared nearly 1,500 cars left stranded by the blizzard. >> less than 24 hours after the storm ended, we're heading back towards normal conditions but we are not there yet. >> reporter: some air travel resumed at the city's o'hare international airport, with full service expected to resume friday. but conditions still were dangerous in many places. a pickup truck skidded off an icy bridge in oklahoma, fell 80 feet into a frozen river and killed two people. and the heavy snow crushed buildings across the northeast and new england, where roofs already were straining under the weight of snow from previous storms. meanwhile, the weight of ice wreaked havoc with trees and power lines in state after state. thousands of people were forced to seek refuge in shelters in ohio and elsewhere. >> man, i am tired of it, i am tired of it. >> reporter: and crews worked through a second night to get the lights and heat back on. in all, residents in 30 states
felt the storm's effects, and even as the snow moved on, extreme cold lingered in many places. in australia, clean-up was underway, a day after one of the strongest storms on record blasted queensland state. cyclone yasi crashed ashore yesterday, with winds up to 170 miles per hour. no deaths were reported, but hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed. and millions of dollars worth of banana and sugarcane crops were shredded. republicans in the u.s. house have fired their first salvo in the budget war. they called today for cutting at least $35 billion dollars in domestic spending this year. that's a 20% reduction to levels in place before president obama took office. republicans campaigned on cutting $100 billion in current spending. but they've acknowledged that won't be possible since the budget year is already four months old. the chairman of the federal reserve warned congress and the president today to get serious about the deficits. ben bernanke said it is critical to a strong economic recovery.
he also told a senate hearing that growth this year will not be strong enough to help the unemployed. >> it will be several years before the unemployment rate has returned to a more normal level. until we see a sustained period of stronger job creation, we cannot consider the recovery to be truly established. >> sreenivasan: the latest unemployment numbers will come tomorrow. but today, the labor department reported first-time claims for jobless benefits fell last week. wall street made modest gains on the news today. the dow jones industrial average added 20 points to close at 12,062. the nasdaq rose four points to close near 2,754. in haiti today, election officials set the field for next month's presidential run-off. former first lady mirlande manigat will face off against local musician and opposition leader michel martelly. martelly's supporters cheered the announcement. they had rioted in december, after officials initially placed the ruling party candidate ahead of him. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jim.
>> lehrer: next, news about new planets. nasa scientists announced the number of known planets beyond our solar system may have just tripled. the discovery came through the kepler telescope which identified more than 1,200 likely new planets. they included a family of six planets orbiting a sun-like star-- the most populated planet system yet found outside our own. "newshour" science correspondent miles o'brien will now tell us all about it. miles, welcome. >> good to be with you. >> lehrer: a scientist said today-- and i quote-- "this is an extraordinary planet windfall, a moment that will be written in textbooks." miles what should be written in textbooks about this discovery? >> well, it turns science fiction into science fact, jim. it was only about 20 years ago
the total number of known x.o. planets was zero. and now we're approaching 1,800 planets outside our solar systems of various sizes and shapes and consistencies, if you will, from the big gassy giants, some of them smaller and rocky that are out there orbiting other stars or their suns. and that is such a significant moment because when you consider kepler was looking at a little piece of our sky, one four hundredths of the night time sky in the course of a four-month period finds 1,200 planets. 54 of them in a zone where water could occur, they call that the habitable zone. and five of the planets inside that habitable zone about the size of earth. so if you start to extrapolate that out to the entire nighttime sky, it seems highly unlikely that we are alone. >> lehrer: you mean that literally? >> yeah, i think so. i think we're talking about hundreds of thousands of planets out there. there are many astronomers who would say if you just start doing the math on all this there
are probably many millions of planets out there. and many of them would be habitable. many of them could be earth-like. the question is how will we find snout. >> lehrer: and when will we find snout >> well, it's going to take another few years down the road, but it's getting close. kepler's goal is to sort of do a head count, if you will. find out how many are out there in this little piece of the sky, make feel feel that this is a mission worth doing and follow-on missions will actually be able to detect these planets more directly. the way kepler works it's like trying to look for a mosquito passing in front of a lit headlight at night, that's what a planet hunt is like. so kepler is able to detect the dimming of that light caused by the mosque going in front of the headlight, if you will. now, the next step is to come up with telescopes that can actually see despite the brightness of the star, directly see those planets. once you can do that, you can start determining well, maybe there's water on there, are there organic compounds? the telltale signs of life.
we hope those follow-on missions will launch before too long. >> lehrer: is there a simple lay definition of what a planet actually is? what do you have to be to be a planet? >> well, we can get into the whole pluto debate here if you wanted to. what does it take to be a planet? yeah, it's not a simple thing and it's subject to a fair amount of debate, but basically we're talking about a core, a central core: we like to think of something that has a nice regular circularized orbit if possible, something that's around a star and is orbiting in the way we think of... in our solar system. but, you know, as we found out with pluto, it got taken off the planetary list and is now considered something more akin to an overgrown asteroid. so there is a gray area to say the least. and as we look more closely into this finding with 1,200 planets, some of them will turn out to be false alarms and some of them may turn out to be planets we're not so interested in. but there's god to be in there
that are in a so-called goldilocks zone, the not too hot not too cold zone where water can be present which might have a rocky surface which might lead us to believe there's life. >> lehrer: in terms of size, the 51... what is it 52... >> well, there are 54 of name are just about the size of earth. >> lehrer: okay. >> and give or take earth, okay? and... excuse me, let me get that right. 54 of them are in the habitable zone. there were 68 that were total. 54 in the habitable zone. of those, five are the size of earth. now, that still doesn't tell us... they could still be gas-sized earths in which case there wouldn't necessarily be life as we know it. we need to do further investigation to understand the density of those planets. are they solid planets or are they just gas balls? if they're gas balls it's less likely there will be life as we know it. >> lehrer: what is the next immediate step? are there, in fact, immediate steps that kepler... using kepler or anything else to find
out, to answer some of these still-unanswered questions? >> well, kepler will keep looking and keep doing this census. but this this announcement really gives a lot of momentum and a lot of push for the follow-on mission, the terrestrial planet find which nasa would like to fly. another mission called darwin. and those missions will come up with ways of looking at these planets in a direct way, actually observing them directly. it's very difficult when that you have bright star nearby and the planets that we're finding are pretty close to the star relatively speaking, particularly from the distance we're looking. so it's difficult to move that out. there are ways to do that. it's not inexpensive but scientifically can you think of a more fundamental and exciting question to have an answer to: are we alone? >> lehrer: and that's really what it's about, right, miles? if we are going to find out one way or another if we are alone and that's all we're going to find out though, probably? >> because the tricky part is
let's say, for example, you talked about that cluster of planets that kepler discovered. well, those planets are 2,000 light years away. so if we were to try... let's say, for example, we were to discover that there was some sort of intelligent life there. it's kind of hard to have a meaningful dialogue, a two-way discussion that takes a 4,000 year round trip. the punch line and the humor don't go so well over 4,000 years. >> lehrer: also defense systems do not have to immediately get geared up for any kind of an attack. >> there's noor son as well as component to this one that i know of. >> lehrer: not yet, at least. miles, thank you very much. >> pleasure, jim. >> woodruff: now, political turmoil in a different corner of the middle east-- lebanon. special correspondent kira kay reports from beirut. >> reporter: as protests have swept across the arab world, lebanon is no exception.
but the demonstrations here are not about fighting autocratic rule. these young lebanese are out to support their democratically elected leader brought down by the militant group hezbollah following a political stand off. >> no one is allowed with the power of the weapons and terrorism to steal this from us. we are the people of lebanon. we are here to let everyone hear our voice. >> reporter: political turmoil is not new to lebanon. it is still a fragile place following 16 years of sectarian civil war that divided the capital, beirut, into muslim west and christian east. today the streets are still adorned with the images of leaders assassinated over the decades. much of this violence is because the country is a true crossroads of cultures and interests. christians, muslims both sunni and shia and a multitude of other factions create constantly shifting alliances.
>> what we do have is a divided country unfortunately among different sectarian communities. christians, sunnis, shia, druzes who very much feel their political identity is tied to their community rather than to the country in general. >> reporter: paul salem is director of carnegie middle east center. >> in lebanon, all the communities are afraid. the christians are afraid of the muslim communities, the sunnis are afraid of the shiite communities, the shiites are afraid of the israel and the u.s. the druze community is afraid of everybody. >> reporter: though lebanon is a small country of 4.2 million people, the geopolitical stakes are high. the interests of the united states, iran, syria and saudi arabia all intersect here and the military might of israel just over the border keeps everything on edge. today's political upheaval has roots in events six years ago: the murder of two-time prime minister rafiq hariri. on febuary 14, 2005 a massive
explosion destroyed rafiq hariris motorcade, killing him and 22 others. hariri's assassination did what no other act of political violence had-- it sparked a massive popular uprising here which some describe as a precursor to what is now being seen in egypt. the protests forced the withdrawal of syria, which had occupied lebanon for three decades and was suspected of being behind rafiq hairiris murder. and protestors also demanded an international inquiry into the assassination. now, almost six years later that justice might be about to happen. 2,000 miles away in the hague, netherlands, an empty courtroom sits waiting for the trials of those accused of killing hariri and other politicians whose murders might be related. herman von hebel is the registrar of the tribunal. >> it was lebanon itself who started the whole process by asking the united nations to
assist in setting up such an international tribunal since there were insufficient guarantees that the lebanese judiciary itself would be able to bring this to good result. >> reporter: the united states has contributed significant funding, and the lebanese government signed an agreement to provide half the budget, judges and most important, political support. after years of investigations, marred by questions over false testimony and internal leaks, indictments are finally being reviewed for release. >> the bomb was so hard, some of the building from the other side all of the glasses were broken. >> reporter: one man waiting for the tribunal to get underway is zaher aido. >> this is the name of my father. >> reporter: his father, judge walid aido was also assassinated, two years after rafiq hairiri. >> what we think it was remote control. as you can see here, it's... it's open. all the buildings from up the hill are seeing the alley.
>> reporter: so somebody was watching, you think. >> yeah, of course. my father was assassinated because he was the first one in lebanon after the assassination of mr. hariri to call for the international tribunal. i am hoping to find out the truth, who killed my father and why? i think it's our right to ask for the justice. it's the only way we can, we know who did it and we... we stop it for the future. >> reporter: but now on the eve of the release of indictments, events have taken a dramatic turn, drawing the tribunal into the heart of lebanese politics. while syria was long expected to be in some way implicated, word has leaked that in fact the tribunals main suspects may be members of hezbollah. officially designated a terrorist organization by the united states and supported by iran and syria, hezbollah is popular here due to its militant resistance to israeli incursions and occupation of southern lebanon. it represents lebanon's sizeable shia population and now holds 10% of seats in parliament.
reclusive hezbollah leader hassan nasrallah has taken to the airwaves to demand that lebanon remove its judges from the hague, cut all funding and end its agreement to arrest and hand over suspects. nasrallah also accused the united states and israel of using the tribunal to attack his movement. what is hezbollah afraid of, why do they care? >> well, hezbollah cares particularly for its image first of all in the arab world, in the muslim world, it's presented itself as a resistance movement against israel. of course, it doesn't want to be blamed for assassinating a lebanese leader or lebanese politician. and it's clear that it views the tribunal as a serious menace because it has taken such abrupt and dramatic action to break the lebanon's relationship with it. >> reporter: so far, hezbollah has fought this battle politically, but every lebanese remembers when hezbollah's militia men seized large parts of beirut just two years ago, over a dispute with the lebanese government.
fierce fighting around the country left dozens dead. >> by demonstrating its power and its willingness to use its power internally, it permanently changed the status quo of lebanon so after that day people lived under the reality that hezbollah has overwhelming military force can use it when it needs to and might do so again. >> reporter: on the other side of the fight over the tribunal is prime minister saad hariri, son of the murdered politician at the center of the tribunals mandate. strongly supported by the united states, hariri has refused to back down vowing to stand by his father's legacy and the tribunal. >> ( translated ): it is the cause i dedicated myself to defend, and swore before god almighty and all the lebanese, not to abandon, regardless of the challenges. >> reporter: the dispute at the top is mirrored on the streets of this beirut neighborhood: split between shia supporters of hezbollah and sunni supporters
of hariri. >> ( translated ): the country needs truth and stability and safety, why do i need to pick and choose? even if one group is against it, this is what is right. >> reporter: this woman saw our camera and came to tell me that without the tribunal there will be utter devastation. she says she wants the tribunal, she wants the truth, she wants saad hariri. but just around the corner at the local barbershop, there is a sharply different view. barbershop owner yusuf mohammed ismael tells me the tribunal is the worst thing that has happened to his country. what has it done to society here, in your opinion? >> ( translated ): this tribunal creates a split between brothers, between sunni's and shia, within the family. sunni's will say shia killed their leader rafiq hariri. many are convinced. just look at the street, there are already changes. >> i know that justice is very important but at the same time if justice is to lead is to lead
to bloodshed, what is the use of justice, tell me. >> reporter: walid jumblatt, the legendary leader of lebanon's druze community, has become the swing vote in local politics. his own father was assassinated in 1977, and he was once a strong supporter of the tribunal. but he now fears lebanon will become collateral damage to u.s. interests in the region. >> they are decided to use the tribunal for their own political purposes. destabilizing lebanon for them is nothing. they just want to drag the hezbollah into a sectarian warfare inside lebanon. this is why i said it is time to finish of this tribunal. >> they make these allegations that the tribunal is a u.s. israeli tool just as they've engaged in any number of other criticisms, attempting to undermine the tribunal process and there is no real legitimacy to those allegations that they make. >> reporter: maura connelly is the united states ambassador to lebanon. >> we've supported the tribunal
because we feel it's important that somebody speak up for what the ultimate objective of the tribunal is which is to bring justice to lebanon. >> reporter: connelly reiterates that the u.s. is deeply opposed to hezbollah playing a larger role in lebanon. >> if the government's program, if the governments policies are controlled by hezbollah then obviously we will be at odds with that government. >> reporter: but walid jumblatt chose to throw his support to hezbollah last week, and formed a new parliamentary majority that toppled saad hariri's government. angry supporters of hariri took to the streets blocking roads and forcing the lebanese army to restore order. and for the protestors, the tribunal remains the only hope for their country. >> without tribunal you will never have rule of law. if we can't practice justice in our country then we will never be a true country. >> reporter: more upheaval may still be to come, once the indictments become public in a few weeks. >> it's possible that they could
be in a way very minor indictments, say a few people, low-level operatives, somewhere did this. in that case it would be fairly easy to go over it. on the other hand if the indictments are very convincing and very solid and indict high figures in hezbollah, it could be a very, very decisive and dangerous moment. >> reporter: lebanon, still fragile from decades of civil war, now waits to see if an international search for justice will finally help end its political violence, or plunge the country further into chaos. >> woodruff: kira kay's story is part of our partnership with the bureau for international reporting. >> lehrer: finally tonight, a novelist tells a very personal story. jeffrey brown has our conversation. >> brown: in february, 2008, 77-year-old raymond smith was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. a week later, he died of a secondary infection, leaving his wife, the writer joyce carol
oates, alone after 48 years of marriage. she's written of her husband's death in the aftermath in the new memoir titled "a widow's story." joyce carol oates is a much-honored author of more than 50 novels, short story collections, plays, essays, and more and a professor at princeton university. she joins me now. welcome to you. >> thank you. >> brown: were you compelled to write this after or later? >> i think i was compelled, that's probably a good word, to write down my experiences, my emotions each day beginning with the hospitalization. i keep a journal anyway and so late at night when i couldn't sleep i would just be jotting down what had happened that day. so the memoir has this breathless quality of things unfolding and that's the way it actually was in my life. >> brown: and what were you wanting it to convey? i've seen you describe it as almost a practical guide, in a way. is it for you or for others? what were you thinking? >> oh, it wasn't for me. i was thinking of writing something called a widow's handbook. >> brown: a widow's handbook.
>> because there were so many things that were happening to me that i was completely astounded by, wasn't prepared for. lots of surprises. everyday, sometimes every hour, i had some new surprising thing happen. it was as if i entered a world of absurdity, like black comedy, sometimes. i opened a door and stepped into the marx brothers.... >> brown: like what's an example? just the dailiness of life? things you hadn't faced before. >> everything in life was exacerbated. if it was raining out, it was really raining. i'd never lost things before, i was suddenly losing things. i would get out of the car and bump my head. everything seemed to start to go downhill as soon as i took my husband to the hospital. one thing led to another as in a mad... a world of madness you know? it just seemed that something got unhinged and went downhill and most people think that a widow is having some world of...
it's like mozart's rayy yes, ma'am mass, very beautiful and elevated thoughts and some measure of dignity. i didn't have that experience at all. i had one pratt fall after another. i was... it was like i'd been hit over the head with a mallet but i still had to do all of the things i would do anyway, including teaching at princeton. and luckily i had wonderful students and very supportive friends who sort of got me through. >> suarez: and i wonder if, for people who know your work-- was it hard to write so personally. because i don't know that you've written a memoir before. to put yourself out there like that? i notice you even refer to "the widow" in a lot in the book. >> that's right. well, that was later. first of all i had the notes because every night i would come home and write down "today ray is better, oxygen intake is better. next tuesday he's going to be discharged." i'm kind of writing things down and then he suddenly
died and then i wrote that down and going to probate court and going to various... seeing a lawyer. and all the things that you do as in a speeded up absurd comedy where everything's happening very fast and in the midst of it all there's some terrible loss, like you've lost your left leg. or you've lost your left arm or a whole part of your brain is gone and that's the fact that your spouse is gone. you know, it's like part of your brain is gone but you still have to go through all the motions of your life even though you've lost your leg. >> suarez:. >> brown: well, you also have to go through the public side of your life. you write "at the university, it's my task to impersonate joyce carol oates." explain that. off public persona through your writing and being a professor. >> well, i think great temptation for the widow and maybe for the widower is just to go to bed. take all the pills that you can and just lie in bed in some
comatose state and just... because you can't face it. but because i had this public responsibility-- teaching and doing things for the press and the magazine, my husband was an editor-- i could don't that. so i always had to come back to being joyce carol oates. joyce smith was this devastated widow, but joyce carol oates was this professional person and i took it as a matter of pride that i wasn't going to cancel. i went way out to the wilds of some place in ohio where it was a terrible snowstorm just a couple weeks after ray died. i didn't want to start quitting and cutting back. i think looking back on it now i probably should have canceled because it was maybe a silly thing to do that. >> brown: you know, i picked up your latest collection of short stories and there was a... there's several stories there which... in which the main character is a woman recently widowed. and i was... so that made me
wonder. you wrote it out in a memoir but you also sort of get it out in fiction form, which is the way most of us know your work. >> that's right. that's subsequent. at first i wrote the notes for the memoir but i didn't think it would be a memoir. it's going to be maybe a widow's handbook. and then i took maybe... let's say i had 600 pages of all these notes and handwriting and i took about 300 or 400 pages for the memoir and then i wrote short stories that parallel the memoir but now they're fiction and more lurid and even more ridiculous and awful things happen to these widows. i wanted to make it worth the fiction that it was in real life to show that other widows have had worse times than i've had. >> brown: but is fiction better for some things and non-fiction better for others? >> yes, fiction is much better for some things, definitely. the sort of thing that i wanted to do is to strike a. >> rodriguez: nantd chord of
universality in other people, which is best done by fiction. >> brown: and let me ask you one last thing. these events took place in 2008. i've since read that you've remarried. >> yes, i've remarried a wonderful person. he himself has had a... some severe family losss so he's not unfamiliar with grief but he's very resolute, has a wonderful sense of humor and one of the things about being a widow or widower, you need a sense of humor because everything's going to fall apart. >> brown: the new memoir is called "a widow's story." joyce carol oates, thank you so much. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: egyptian president mubarak stuck to his plan to stay in office until september. he said if he resigns now, the chaos would grow even worse. bloody fighting raged for a second day in cairo, between government supporters and protesters. pro-mubarak forces also attacked
dozens of journalists. and thousands of people marched in cities across yemen against president ali abdullah saleh. and to hari sreenivasan for what's on the "newshour" online. hari? >> sreenivasan: joyce carol oates reads from her memoir. that's on "art beat." we're tracking developments in cairo and beyond. find video from the scene and more of the newshour's coverage on our egypt page. our science unit looks at research on tinnitis-- a hearing disorder causing patients to experience painful ringing and phantom sounds. plus, we have images of the mars landscape showing shifting sand dunes. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. judy? >> woodruff: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. i'm judy woodruff. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. we'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks, among others. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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